A report on a former diplomat from Pakistan “admitting” that 300 terrorists were killed in India’s air strike at Balakot in 2019 has been called out by fact-check website Alt News, which says the video clip that the news was based on was manipulated.
Several newspapers and websites, including NDTV, carried the report by news agency ANI on former Pakistani diplomat “Agha Hilaly” saying on a Pakistani channel’s debate that 300 terrorists had died in the Balakot airstrike on February 26, 2019.
The report said: “The admission by the former Pakistani diplomat, who regularly takes the Pakistan Army side in TV debates, goes against the zero casualties claim made by Islamabad at that time.”
India launched the air strike to destroy a terror training camp days after the terror attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama in which 40 soldiers were killed. Pakistan-based Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack.
“India crossed the international border and did an act of war in which at least 300 were reported dead. Our target was different from theirs. We targeted their high command. That was our legitimate target because they are men of the military. We subconsciously accepted that a surgical strike — a limited action — did not result in any casualty. Now we have subconsciously told them that, whatever they will do, we’ll do only that much and won’t escalate,” ANI quoted “Agha Hilaly” as saying.
But a fact-check by “Alt News” found that the comments were misreported and the ex-diplomat who made the comments was “Zafar Hilaly”.
— Zafar Hilaly (@ZafarHilaly) January 9, 2021
In the debate posted on YouTube by HUM news as part of a program called “Agenda Pakistan”, Hilaly said, “What you did, India, was an act of war. India ne jo kiya, international boundary ko cross karke ek act of war. Jisme kam se kam 300 logo ko unhone marna tha. (What India did was an act of war. By crossing the international boundary India committed an act of war in which they intended to kill at least 300 people).”
The very next sentence has the former diplomat saying: “Ittifaqan vo nahi mare, humne [India ne] ek football field ko bomb kiya. (Coincidentally, they [Pakistani people] did not die and India bombed a football field.)”
Zafar Hilaly also tweeted a video saying his statement was spliced and edited.
Alt News said a version of the video posted on Twitter had an abrupt cut “around 0:7-0:9 seconds” and the word “marna (to kill)” sounds as if Hilaly said “mara (killed)”.
The news has since been removed by websites.